NCRP Remembers One of Philanthropy’s Biggest Truthtellers, Pablo Eisenberg

Written by: Elbert Garcia

Senior Fellow at Georgetown Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership and former Executive Director of the Center for Community Change was a long-time  NCRP board member and one of the organization’s original founders 

Washington, DC – The staff, board, and partners of the National Committee of Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP) are deeply saddened to hear about the passing of one of our original founders, Pablo Eisenberg. He was 90 years old.

Eisenberg, along with Thomas R. Asher and Jim Abernathy, helped create NCRP in 1976 as an outgrowth of the Donee Group, which looked to represent the interests of grantees and small funders before the Congress’ 1973 Flier Commission on Private and Public Needs.

Eisenberg was the organization’s founding board chair and would serve continuously on the board of directors for 37 years.

Pablo Eisenberg

Pablo Eisenberg (1932- 2022)

“Pablo worked hard to make grantmakers move beyond their own intentions and ideals in order to deliver real opportunities and funding to those looking to create a better world,” said NCRP President and CEO Aaron Dorfman. “He especially never lost his focus on low-income people, continually and intentionally centering his efforts with communities that the sector’s actions often marginalized. He was not afraid to shake things up and challenge powerful leaders, organizations, and friends when he thought they could be more and do more. Including NCRP.”

Several years ago, in reflecting on NCRP’s history and legacy, Eisenberg noted the crucial role that the organization has had in ensuring that institutions were more accountable to their grantees and more just giving.

“I remember when foundations never issued reports, and now that’s commonplace, remarked Eisenberg in the 2021 June issue of NCRP’s Responsive Philanthropy. “People know that there are folks looking over their shoulder as they give money.”

“Transparency, humility, power-sharing – these were all behaviors that Pablo challenged all philanthropists to adopt, even when they didn’t think it was necessary,” added Dorfman. “While there is still a lot of work to be done in the sector on this, these mechanisms are no longer outlandish demands thanks to the work of people like Pablo Eisenberg.”

Eisenberg served as the Executive Director of the Center for Community Change for 23 years. A prolific writer well past his 80s, he was a senior fellow at Georgetown Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership at the time of his death.

You can read more about Eisenberg and the NCRP’s founding in the History section of our website. A first-person oral history told by Eisenberg himself is also available on the HistPhil website.